In order to get more integrated, you must sort yourself out. The amount of work required to do so, and which aspects of your life has to be prioritized (i.e., spirituality, sexually, psychologically, etc.) very much vary from one individual to another. Did you grow up in a functional family? In a conservative one? Were you surrounded and guided by strong masculine figures? Are you a very short guy? Some lucky men kick-off their early adult lives with strong self-confidence, functional sense of selves, and clear directions towards where they are heading. Many men just do not. That’s the way it is.
And one question that fascinates me is the following: Why many men don’t want to sort themselves out? I came up with the following reasons:
- Social conditioning. It is the process of training individuals to have certain beliefs, behaviors, desires and emotional reactions, which are approved by their peers. To some extent, nobody is above social conditioning, and it is anchored to our sense of belonging. Going against it can be perceived as a serious threat for social beings like us. Think about announcing to your hardcore religious family that you are polygamous. A lot of men live in their cage of social conditioning, following the life they were been told to do without taking care of their needs.
- Fear & cost of changes. To sort himself out, a man has to challenge his own belief systems, face his fears, and change the way he behaves in the world. It is scary and uncomfortable. If a man is not willing to pay the price and have the balls to initiate new momentum, he will get stuck in his comfort zone.
- Not enough suffering. Suffering in many cases is the reason why men start to move forward with themselves. When it becomes unbearable, and when no external circumstances can alleviate it, suffering can be a blessing. Maybe some men still need to suffer a bit more before they start moving forward?
- Giving up too easily. I don’t believe in the capability of peak experiences to implement long-term and sustainable shifts in our lives (and more to come on that below). It might have occurred in some extreme cases of spiritual awakenings, but they are exceptions. On the contrary, it takes time and sustained efforts to change your belief systems and life situations. The problem is, in western societies, we tend to look for the magic pill, the quick fix, to seek for instant gratification. But we often overestimate short-term life changes, and often underestimate long-term ones. Part of the problem is also to be too much focused on the goal, and not enjoying the process. Indeed, it is also about the journey.
- Non accountability. To sort yourself out, you must acknowledge that you are responsible for yourself. That nobody will save you, not your friends, not your family, not your country.
- Anger Junkies. A lot of men are angry against society because they think they are unfairly treated by women and feminist societies, e.g., see the MGTOW movement or the Red Pill / manosphere online subculture. These guys spend a lot of time ranting about how women are evil, and it gives them nice shots of yummy stress hormones they crave.
- Health issues. Building-up momentum for changes requires energy. But even small baby steps taken here and there brings you closer to your end game. Don’t use your health issues as an excuse not to take actions.
- Not believer. Many men do not believe in our capability to adapt our brains and behavior in our adult lives, they say, “that’s the way I grew up, there’s nothing I can do about it”. Just another excuse.
And while thinking about this topic, I recalled a book I read a while ago, “Mastery – The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment” by George Leonard, a martial artist. This guy has been teaching Aikido for decades, and by observing the learning process of his students, he realized that the mastery curve always took on a characteristic rhythm that looked like that:
Basically, learning any new skills would involve relatively brief spurts of progress, each of which is followed by a slight decline to a plateau somewhat higher in most cases than that which preceded it. This curve also highlights the fact that on your way to mastery, you spend much of your time on plateaus, rather than on spurs of progress. And progress can’t be steady upward because it takes times for our brains to internalize once and for all the changes. Indeed, learning a new skill at the beginning requires a conscious and cognitive effort. Once internalized, you can focus your cognition on the next step. I believe the path towards integration evolves the same way.
And the author continues with strategies that one implements when willing to bypass the path to mastery. Since the latter promises no quick and easy payoffs, people look at other paths.
The dabbler approaches any new endeavour with great enthusiasm, love the idea to start something new. But soon lose any motivation and start looking for new inputs to feed his addiction to novelty. Comparable to an eternal kid, overjoyed by new things all the time without growth. The obsessive wants big results right away, he puts much more energy than the others and burn like paper fire. Finally, the hacker is the one getting stuck in his comfort zone.
A lot of dabblers show up at self-development and self-love retreats, I have been to some of them myself. Usually feel-good retreats, with a lot of lovely people singing and hugging trees. Which is perfectly fine when you want to connect with some strong feminine unconditional love. And these events are usually sorted out with good intentions. But once the weekend is over, and the love showers dried out, dabblers don’t do the work to integrate potential insights into their daily lives, and fall back right away into their inner brooding. Just peak experiences repeated one after the other without incremental learning from them. Like a chewing gum, you get the blast of sugar and taste in your mouth, but quickly end up chewing for nothing.
The obsessive path can be seen in childish and too ego-focused men, restlessly looking for the magic pill, thinking they are too important to have to do the work, and accept the time it takes. A typical example of a hacker in our context is a middle-age beta man, married with a decent woman in a monogamous relationship, with a 9-5 corporate job he hates paying the house’s loan, and a decent social life. He has all the security and comfort he craves, why he would need to face adversity in order to step up his game?